Museums and the Web

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Luce Foundation Center for American Art and myCollection

Smithsonian American Art Museum
Mediatrope Interactive Studios

The Luce Foundation Center for American Art is a visible storage facility within the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM). It displays approximately 3,400 paintings and objects in densely packed floor-to-ceiling glass cases and pneumatic drawers. The Web site for the Luce Foundation Center allows users to access detailed information on every one of the 3,400 artworks and 1,100 artists ( . This extensive and engaging content includes text, photographs, audio clips, and video clips. The artworks are sorted and displayed in an intuitive way and there are a variety of pathways into the content. One feature allows users to locate artworks very specifically within the bricks-and-mortar museum and then prepare and print custom-reports, creating their own self-guided tours of the physical space. The most innovative feature of the site is 'myCollection' ( , which allows you to collect objects into a virtual scrapbook as you explore. Users may do this from the search results page or from an individual artwork page. The first time a user collects an object they are invited to register or login to create a profile, but after that they can browse and collect at their leisure without being directed away from the Luce Foundation Center pages. Users may also collect objects from the touch-screen computer kiosks in the Luce Foundation Center, and add these to their online collection. Once users access their online collection, they can create multiple scrapbooks, sort artworks, create slideshows to music, write their own interpretive labels, and share their scrapbooks with others. They can return to the Luce Foundation Center Web site, or the Web site for the entire Smithsonian American Art Museum ( and collect further artworks. Users can respond to the 'official' interpretation of an artwork by adding their own thoughts and comments, and have the ability to create themed scrapbooks according to their interests. Using the collecting tool, users can create a highly personalized record of their visit ñ whether it was a purely virtual visit to the Web site, or whether they came to the museum in person.

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